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NY Toy Fair 2020 I: SpongeBob Meets Fluxx, and FoxMind Invites You to Chop More Wood

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: SpongeBob SquarePants Fluxx
I've finished my first day at NY Toy Fair 2020, having taken lots of pictures and many notes about things that can and can't be talked about. We see a few licensed products at the Spielwarenmesse trade fair, but NY Toy Fair is a bonanza of licensing, with games, dolls, scooters, drones, squish toys, bubble wands, and much more carrying images from a huge assortment of IPs.

Some of those pairings make perfect sense, as with Looney Labs' announcement of Andy Looney's SpongeBob SquarePants Fluxx, which has a U.S. street date of May 21, 2020. The chaotic nature of both Fluxx and SpongeBob inspires a "Yes, of course, why didn't this happen earlier?" Like the 2019 releases of Marvel Fluxx and Jumanji Fluxx, this "Specialty Edition" from Looney Labs is packaged in a larger-than-normal box for Fluxx, with a poker-style coin and seven bonus cards. (Looney Labs didn't have a mock-up of the game on hand for NY Toy Fair, so I've included the cover image that the company sent to me directly.)

What Looney Labs did have on display were mock-ups of the four "Pyramid Quartet" titles being crowdfunded on Kickstarter (KS link) as they're showing these titles to retailers and explaining how they can serve as expansions for Pyramid Arcade (if the retailers are already carrying that item) or sold as standalone games that can serve as an entry point to the larger world of pyramid games (should they not be carrying that item).

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Non-final copies

Much of the work that goes on at NY Toy Fair and other trade shows is educational. Retailers can't see everything on the market, and new stores open all the time, so even when a title is old (or even "old" in the sense that it came out 1-2 years ago), that game is often new to whoever is approaching the publisher's booth. From the publisher's perspective, they need to show why this retailer would want to carry the game and how the retailer would introduce the game to potential customers. If you can help retailers sell your wares, you've effectively enlisted them as a salesperson in your company, but a salesperson who buys the game from you in order to spread it amongst the community.

At one publisher's booth, two fair attendees asked the company representative whether a Spanish version of the game existed. Yes, company A has a license and plans to release the game in Spain at time B. Okay, but what about in South America? No, we don't have that; let's set up a time to talk.

I heard representatives from France, Germany, Japan, Scandinavia, and many other places asking about the availability of titles, whether via direct sales from the publisher, through a licensee, or through a possible license. Business at shows like Origins, Gen Con, and SPIEL often takes the form of individual sales, ideally to those alpha gamers who will then introduce the game to others, spreading awareness of a design; business at shows like NY Toy Fair and Spielwarenmesse can be a half-hour meeting that results in five hundred copies sold — or fifty thousand copies, or nothing. The event can have a lottery-like feel as you don't always know who's going to show up at your booth and what might result from that first "Hello".

Anyway, more about games...

Board Game: Click Clack Lumberjack

Canadian publisher FoxMind has a new version of Justin Oh's Click Clack Lumberjack coming to market under the name TacTac Jack, with the game due out "soon". In the game, you use the plastic axe to chop at the plastic discs, trying to knock them just far enough that the bark arcs on the sides fall off (as you score points from those), but not far off that you get the core as that's a huge negative.

Board Game: Kulami

FoxMind also has a new version of Andreas Kuhnekath's excellent abstract strategy game Kulami coming to market in April 2020. To play, fit the wooden blocks together in some manner, then take turns adding a marble to the board. After I place a marble, you must then place your marble in the same row or column as the marble I just placed, but you can't place it in the same block or on the block where you placed a marble the previous turn. If a player can't play, then the game ends. Players claim the blocks where they have a majority of marbles, then you score points for all the divots in those blocks, whether filled or empty. Whoever has the high score wins.

FoxMind's David Capon said that the only change to this edition is that it includes two "capping" pieces that you can place over your most recently played marble. In the late game, this makes it easier to see in which row or column you must play and where you last placed.

Board Game: Secret Operation

In Q3 2020, FoxMind plans to release a new edition of Alberto Corazón Arambarri's Secret Operation, a 4-10 player hidden identity game that debuted in 2019 from Brain Picnic and Zacatrus.

In the game, one or more players are working against the others to keep a robot from being constructed. On a turn, you place one of the three cards in your hand face down on any one of the unfinished robot spaces, saying what you're placing there or not as you wish. Once a space has as many cards as is indicated, with that number varying based on the number of players, you shuffle those cards, then reveal them. If all the required cards are included, that piece of the robot is built; if not, you discard the cards and learn that someone who played there is not working with the team. You must build all of the robot before the deck runs out, or the traitors win.

Board Game: Figure It

Another reissue from FoxMind is Alex Randolph's Figure It, first released in 1975 as Domemo. The game consists of 28 tiles, with one 1, two 2s, and so on up to seven 7s. After shuffling the tiles, players take 4-7 tiles depending on the player count and face them away from themselves. Some tiles are left face down, and some might be turned face up. On a turn, based on what you see and what others have said, you ask an opponent whether you have a particular number, and if you do, they reveal a tile with this number in your hand. Whoever first reveals their hand wins.

My friend Ken Shoda offers this "shoot for the moon" variant in which you can win the game immediately if you can name all of your tiles correctly.

Board Game: Match Madness: Extreme

Jeppe Norsker's Match Madness is a real-time pattern-building game in which each player has five rectangular blocks with domino-style markings on them, and during a round players race to assemble their blocks to match the pattern revealed on a target card. (The game has different variations in which multiple cards are in play.)

Match Madness: Extreme expands the game by giving each player a single cube that has four markings on it. Now you'll have a much tougher time figuring out how to replicate the patterns since not everything is chunked into domino shapes.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Slam Bluff is the second "game in a collapsible dice cup" from FoxMind. You shake the dice, then slam down on the cup with your hand, which collapses it and locks the dice in place. You then secretly look at the dice and Bluff-style give a number created by the dice (or just make up a number). The next player calls your bluff or takes the cup, looks at it, then says a higher number, with the subsequent player needing to call them out or raise.

Slam Words has a similar cup, but you smash it, reveal the letters, then race to name a word that contains those letters before anyone else can.

•••


I had hoped to post more from this show, but the internet is junky in this hotel, and the fair opens again in a half hour, so I need to head back to the Javits Center to take more pics and notes. For now, I'll leave you with a full frontal Pikachu shot:

From gallery of W Eric Martin
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